E/K-M girls reflect on historic season

Mar. 6—EDGELEY, N.D. — While some teams set to play for the state championship are all about business and not having any fun going into the game, that is not the case for the Edgeley/Kulm-Montpelier girls' basketball team.

Rebels head coach Rory Entzi said on the morning of March 2, the team went to Hondo's Hideaway and were belting out Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield.

"The whole team is singing the song and pretty soon some of the patrons are singing the song with them and there's people walking in and they're kind of jitter bugging because they're like, 'Hey what's going on here,' and everybody's singing to the song," Entzi said.

This season, the Rebels went 23-6 overall and outscored their opponents 1,650 to 1,112. The Rebels had one player finish in double digits as Mataeya Mathern had 17.4 points per game.

The team had its best finish in program history, making it all the way to the state title game before falling 55-41 to Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg. The second-place finish is the best finish for the program since the schools became a co-op in 2013.

"I know I would not want to do it with any other team," Rebels senior Abby Mathern said. "It feels so much better that we could do it together, unbelievable. I know I couldn't have done it without any one of my teammates and everyone had a play in our last run and everyone was needed, whether they were a bench player, one of our eighth graders that got pulled up midseason, our coaches, our fans, everybody played a role."

Before the season started, Entzi said the expectations for his team were to get to the state tournament but he didn't know how far they could go in the tournament. Entzi said the expectations for his program moving forward are to make the state tournament after the team made it to the stage each of the last two seasons.

When he thinks about the three games in the state tournament, Entzi said his team didn't figure out a way to get a sustained run in the championship game like they did in the first two games of the tournament. Entzi said the Patriots are a very similar team to them and play a similar defensive style.

"We just had some stretches where we didn't score I guess," Entzi said. "... So, when you think about the tournament in general, the first day, what we'd score the last seven or eight points of the game, against Bowman County in the beginning we had a good stretch and then in the third quarter, we took off again. We just didn't really have that. We had a few short spurts but not enough to get us over the hump."

One of the team's best returners is Betsy Huber who will be a sophomore next year. This season, Huber averaged 5.2 points per game on 48.6% from the field.

"I think it'll help a lot (to have played this season)," Huber said. "I wasn't the most confident and I slowly got more confident with my shot over the season. But, it'll help a lot just being with the older girls that I'm gonna be playing with next year and building chemistry is definitely going to be helpful."

Entzi said he is hoping his younger players, including Huber, understand the work that it takes behind the scenes to be as successful as the team was this year.

The team will lose five players from this year's team, including Abby Mathern who averaged 7.7 points per game. Mathern had a big postseason as she headed into the district tournament averaging 6.2 points per game. She scored a career high 24 points in the Region 1 semifinal win over Maple River on Feb. 20

Mathern also hit the game-winning jump shot in a 43-42 win over Central McLean in the first round of the state tournament on Thursday, Feb. 29.

"The one thing I'm just stuck on, is the fact that, that was the last time I'll ever be sitting on a Rebel bench and I've spent so many years on that bench, going from water girl to playing," Mathern said.

Mathern said she hopes the younger players on the team had fun this season and the state tournament run motivates them to return to the tournament.

Throughout the Rebels run to the state title game, the stands were packed with fans from all three towns, which Huber said helped fuel her and her teammates.

"It was awesome," Huber said. "... It was so cool to look out there and see that and they were all cheering. We even had other teams like Maple River, we became really close with them over the weekend, like really close, they were in our student's section. Just to look out and see all the black and yellow and just knowing all the other towns that were cheering for us was awesome. It just felt good to do all that we could to make them proud."

In the days immediately following the tournament, Entzi said he felt bored after getting used to creating game plans for the team's next opponents through the four months of the season. Entzi said he is not sure when he is going to get back to looking at preparations for basketball but he is now turning his concentration to paying attention to his youngest son, Drew, who is on the Rebels boys' basketball team. He also said he will start preparing to coach the Rebels boy's golf team soon.

"I told one of my ADs, I'm doing the Aaron Rodgers dark retreat for two weeks and then once I get out of that dark retreat we'll see what's next," Entzi said with a chuckle. " .... We have to have obviously our exit meetings, we do that every year with every kid whether they're a senior or an eighth grader whatever, whoever is with us. That I probably have to do really quickly probably in the next week."

After the loss, Huber said she wants to get back in the gym immediately to prepare and try to lead the Rebels to a state title next year.

"I'm taking a week off before track and I'll probably get right back into basketball when I do that," Huber said. "I'll just shoot after track whenever we can."